Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but some have found assistance through a multi-million dollar state government program called Expanded Subsidized Employment, or ESE. However, Governor Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal cuts the funding to that program.
If the latest budget goes through, it would affect Valley workers like Hanford resident Joey Dunham. He was working for the City of Hanford, but lost his job when he couldn’t get the proper license at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Back in March, the DMV closed some locations and limited services to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Dunham’s wife also stopped working at a packing house to protect her health. Through the county’s ESE program, however, Dunham got a position with an auto shop, MVP Truck and Auto Accessories.
“If I have questions, they’re always willing to teach me something new,” Dunham said of his new co-workers. He’s had the position for about a month. Dunham said he’s even looking forward to becoming an electrician or mechanic.
He’s one of about 130 people in Kings County who get job training and placement assistance every year through ESE. The county is typically allocated about $1.5 million annually to run the program. That state funding also helps employers pay those workers.
“It’s kind of that necessary help,” said Lance Lippincott, director of Kings County’s Economic and Workforce Development. “A lot of businesses are reopening right now and it comes down to decisions like, should we buy masks for all our employees or should we bring back a full work force.”
The ESE funding could be restored in the state budget if the federal government steps in. The governor has until June 15 to pass the budget.